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Covid-19 Impact: Work-from-home not an option

Work-from-home recently hit the top gear with the coronavirus pandemic. But the manufacturing industry may not be as open to the idea as other new-age Indian companies.

Manufacturing firms have always relied on higher levels of productivity with more workforce on the shop floor. The belief continues owing to its practical concern of dealing with physical items.

“There is the inherent feeling that employees may not give their full attention to work while being at home. Add to this is the old but popular adage that no one works at home like in the office and that productivity would not be 100%,” said Prabir Jha, a former chief HR officer at Tata Motors and the founder of Prabir Jha People Advisory. Yet manufacturing companies may now encourage work from home more as a “social responsibility”, he added.

The question of fairness arises as well. Rajeshwar Tripathi, the chief HR officer at Mahindra & Mahindra said it would be unfair to have some functions working from home and others on-site at a manufacturing company as all the functions are interlinked and not isolated. Work-from-home is only looked as an option if someone is sick.

“There are functions like assembling electrical parts, quality checks on shop floor, etc., where controlled environments and human touch is required and, in such scenarios, work from home may be a difficult proposition,” said Shilpa Kabra Maheshwari, the country head, HR at Siemens India.

While it has been seen that a flexi-working policy works fine for corporate and non-sales jobs, it would be difficult to implement in manufacturing operations, despite its many benefits.